Hey everyone ! So, as I probably mentioned before, I love video games, and I love talking about them, so I’ve decided to recommend every now and then some games I enjoyed ! Expect a lot of rpgs because they’re my favorite.
Except we’re kicking off this series with a game that is not an rpg, namely, Last Window : The secret of Cape West. I t came out in 2010 for the nintendo DS.
The game is a point and click/visual novel, in a rather literal meaning of the word : you hold your DS like you would a book, and everytime you finish a novelized version of it is unlocked. As such, the game is a very story-oriented game, with gameplay being limited to a few puzzles that make use of the touch screen. And the story is really where the game shines. The best way I can discribe it is : a mellow noir. It uses a lot of codes from noir stories, but without the cynical tone they usually have. You play kyle Hyde, a retired polieman turned salesman, who on the very same day gets fired, learns the appartment building where he lives is going to be demolished, and gets a mysterious request to investigate the appartments and find the mysterious “scarlet star”. Kyle Hyde accepts the requests, while also trying to salvage his situation.
Last Window is actually a sequel to Dusk Hotel, but it only makes a few references to it, so you can enjoy the game without having played the first one (which was the case for me).
The game is very well written. As i said, it lacks the cynical “everybody is horrible” attitude that some noir/detective stories have (it even subverts some clichés of the genre). All the characters have their qualities and flaws, and while some of them aren’t good people, they still have a nuanced portrayal. Mostly, everyone is sad or hurt in some way, but what I love about this game’s writing is that it’s not their defining characteristic. They are people who happen to have been hurt, but their personnalities doesn’t revolve around that. They still have goals, emotions, personnalities, and are still going on through life, one way or another. The mood of the game is pretty melancholic, but still hopeful.
(also there’s a french dude with a believable name, no obnoxious accents and whose character doesn’t revolve around him being french, which is always a nice surprise)
As for the actual investigation, it’s paced pretty well, giving you enough information to keep guessing, while still keeping you in the dark about the big picture. Although the game isn’t immune to padding, as few portions feel like busywork (like actually doing your work as a salesman).
The presentation of the game is rather unique. As I said, you hold the DS as you would a book, and the characters have conversations across the two screens. Speaking of them, they all have various rotoscoped animations to show their moods and emotions, and they look amazing.
I never got tired of them. There’s some ugly DS-3D for the backgrounds and locations, but that’s not the meat of the game, thankfully. And the soundtrack. Even if you don’t play the game I heavily recommend you listen to it. It’s very “easy-listening”-ish, but it does a wonderful job at carrying emotion. Like the rest of the game, most of the tracks have a mellow, slightly sad feel and fit the action very well.
Difficulty-wise, some puzzles and conversations aren’t particularly intuitive or well explained, so you might want to keep a walkthrough on hand. I don’t recall there being too many of those, and while most of the while you’ll be ok, you won’t be able to breeze through everything.
Sadly, the game was never released in america, only japan and europe, but watching a playthrough is a valid option, as the story really is the most important part of the game (and you don’t have to grapple with frutrating puzzles).
This was a bit all over the place, but long story short, Last Window is a unique, well written game with fleshed out characters, nice art and a lovely soundtrack, and I recommend it heartily \o/